LAS VEGAS -- I usually start this column with a recap of what happened over the weekend in the NFL, and then conclude with a look at how the openers for next week's games got bet into place.
But this week there's a line that is dominating conversation so much that it needs to be discussed right away. I'm talking, of course, about the Denver Broncos opening as a 28-point favorite over the Jacksonville Jaguars. It's a game between the presumed best and worst teams in the league this year, and it's a point spread for the ages.
Speculation about this line started more than a week ago with Vegas bookmakers predicting the Broncos would be minus-27.5 or minus-28, and then at noon Tuesday (when the LVH SuperBook posts its advance lines), the LVH made the Broncos a 26.5-point favorite over the Jaguars as the first number in town on which one could bet. Ed Salmons, who sets the odds for Jay Kornegay at the LVH, said he took enough bets at Jaguars plus-26.5 to drop it to 26 and then received "about 30 percent of that back on the Broncos" but didn't move the line any more. Later in the week, the South Point jacked it up to minus-28.
On Sunday, the Twitterverse was exploding on Sunday with talk about how the oddsmakers would have to make the Broncos a 30-point favorite if they were to get any semblance of balanced action. But the Dallas Cowboys rallied and took the Broncos to the brink before Denver won 51-48, but failed to cover (minus-7.5 or minus-8, depending on where and when you bet).
That prompted the LVH to reopen the Broncos at minus-28. The Wynn Las Vegas went with Denver minus-27.5, which was the same as most offshore books. The William Hill books sided with the LVH at 28. As of late Sunday, all the books were holding their lines. In fact, Salmons said the LVH didn't take a single bet on the game Sunday night.
While there is no official record book for point spreads (note to self: put that on the "To Do" list), the biggest in recent years was New England Patriots laying 24.5 points against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 25, 2007. The Patriots were 10-0 on the way to their 16-0 regular season and had beaten the Washington Redskins 52-7 the week before. New England barely won 31-28 and didn't come anywhere near covering the spread.